We might have lost count of the times Alfa Romeo has announced its return to the U.S. only to push it further back a little while later, but we can say that the first 21st-century Alfa has already landed on the Land of the Free – sort of.
That’s because the all-new Dodge Dart compact sedan that has been officially unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show is based on a modified version of the platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and is the first sample of the Fiat-Chrysler cooperation since the former gaining control of the latter in 2009.
Its design bears no resemblance to its Italian cousin, though, as the 2013 Dart, apart from being a four-door sedan and not a five-door hatchback it is longer and wider. It also features its own, distinctive design with the Dodge-trademarked crosshair grille and the Charger-inspired rear lights.
“When designing the all-new Dodge Dart, we were inspired by classic, beautifully designed vehicles throughout time”, said head of Dodge Design, Joe Dehner. “Each car was beautiful, based on its surface work and presence alone; they didn’t need unnecessary cladding, jewelry or lines that confuse the eye.”
Inside, Dodge makes promises of high-quality “soft-touch” materials and high tech features such as the available 7-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster display that can be customized to the driver’s taste with options including digital and analog gauges, navigation turn-by-turn display, eco-meter, fuel economy, audio, phone, compass and temperature read outs.
The Dart can also be equipped with a large 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect Touch Media Center with built-in radio, navigation, iPod control, climate controls, voice-activated blue tooth, SiriusXM Travel Link, weather updates and points of interest.
Dodge says customization was key in the car’s development as the Dart will offer buyers a choice of 12 exterior colors, 14 interior color and trim combinations, and seven different wheels among other options.
Moving onto the hardware, the body structure of the Dart is comprised of 68 percent high-strength steel, which Dodge says results in an architecture that is lightweight and solid. Up front, the 2013 Dodge Dart features a MacPherson strut front suspension while at the rear end there’s a bi-link independent rear suspension, both tuned to offer more responsive steering and handling characteristics.
At launch, The Dart will be available with three four-cylinder gasoline engines. The 2.0-liter “Tigershark” unit delivers 160bhp at 6,400 rpm and 145 lb-ft (200Nm) of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. It can be mated to either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
The second unit is a 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir engine producing 160bhp at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. (250 Nm) at 2,550-4,000 rpm, linked to either a six-speed manual or six-speed DDCT transmission.
Finally, the third option is a 2.4-liter “Tigershark” MultiAir unit that generates 184bhp at 6,250 rpm and 171 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.